Kuehnert, who graduated from UNC in 2013, is the co-founder of Buds Boxers, a startup underwear company aimed at the college-age demographic that is hoping to have a Kickstarter campaign up and running this week.
Kuehnert said the conceptualization began in December 2013, when he and a few of his entrepreneurial friends from Chapel Hill began floating ideas of something fun to work on.
But Buds didn’t come around until the following summer, when those same friends began thinking of projects in men’s apparel.
“We first thought about starting a men’s tie company, we thought about socks, but we just realized a lot of these ideas had already been done,” Kuehnert said.
“We just kept playing around with the idea, and one day we just thought, ‘Why don’t we change the way men think about their boxer shorts?’”
Kuehnert said Buds wants to make their mark through their quality, American manufacturing and designs.
“We are not competing with Walmart boxers — we are trying to get guys to care about stuff that’s really awesome instead of buying the five pack of Hanes,” he said.
At the moment, Kuehnert’s goals are to get $21,000 in funding through Kickstarter and raise awareness for the brand. To do that, he realized he needed more manpower.
Enter Jake Higdon. Higdon, a junior global studies major, became involved just a few weeks ago. He said he’s been helping with outreach and marketing in anticipation to the launch on Kickstarter. Sometimes, he said, it’s difficult to market a product that’s generally hidden under other layers.
“Boxers are something that people think they don’t really need to worry about,” he said. “We are trying to remake that. That’s the whole point really — redefining that market.”
Higdon has also helped come up with a slogan: “Join the Boxer Rebellion.”
Both Kuehnert and Higdon exude a laid-back vibe they say is reflected in their start-up.
Dave Dwight, a junior economics and global studies major who has been on board since the summer, said that attitude has made the process as enjoyable as possible.
“This is a side project for all of us,” he said. “We’re not trying to put an incredible amount of personal self-worth into the success of this project.”
That doesn’t mean the team hasn’t faced challenges.
“We all come to the table with our different brand ideas, and trying to come up with a congruent and concise brand for people hasn’t always been easy,” Dwight said.
Kuehnert said the group has no plans to open a storefront. He said they are planning on selling online.
“It’s possible that if things go well, we would partner with retailers and have them in different storefronts,” he said.
For now, their main goal is to see the Kickstarter funded as soon as possible, Dwight said.
“Long term, let’s get the Kickstarter funded and move on to Buds 2.0. It’s really hard to say what’s beyond that.”